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The Secretary's Wild Horse and Burro Initiative: A Plan for Public Engagement

Posted: 6/3/2010

In the nearly 40 years since the passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management has had primary responsibility for managing these iconic symbols of the American West. However, the program has proven controversial, with many interest groups, from horse enthusiasts, animal welfare and wildlife advocates, ranchers, and local governments expressing strong opinions about how best to protect the wild horses and burros, the public land, and its natural resources.

Last October, after Secretary Salazar announced a new approach to the Wild Horse and Burro Program, the BLM asked the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution to take a detailed look at how the BLM could best engage the public in creating a new strategic plan for the program. The BLM request is an expression of the agency's commitment to encouraging a more open and positive dialogue with the public. The Institute, working with J. Michael Harty of Kearns and West, prepared a detailed assessment and plan for public outreach and engagement around a new strategy for the program. The BLM used the Institute’s report to develop its Wild Horse and Burro Strategy Development Document.

The full U.S. Institute assessment report can be found here:



Both the Institute's assessment report as well as the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Strategy Development Document are available on the BLM’s web site at ( The public is encouraged to convey comments on both reports through the BLM's electronic comment system.

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